Anyone who rides the subway these days has these dreadful thoughts: Will today be the day I’m attacked? Will this be the day I’m shoved off the platform into an oncoming train?
And: Where the hell is our mayor?
At 8.30 am on Thursday, a 40-year-old woman was shoved on to the tracks at the northbound 4/5/6 platform at Union Square. Her attacker had been pacing the platform, parts of which are frighteningly narrow, before seeing the 5 train approach and pushing her, from behind, into its path.
She was reported as “lucky” to have survived with minor injuries. I see it another way: She had the presence of mind to roll into the hollow between the two tracks and not move until the FDNY arrived — stuck underneath two cars.
And how pathetic of Bill de Blasio, a feckless leader who fancies himself a champion of the little guy, the have-nots. Most subway riders now are largely hardworking people and essential workers, doing backbreaking jobs, unable to afford or abide leaving the city, who can’t afford to buy a car let alone take an Uber or a cab.
These people are the best of New York City, subject to this daily terror.
Crime in the subway is up. That’s a fact, one de Blasio will surely deny is a fact — as he does every week on WNYC’s “Ask the Mayor,” fielding calls from increasingly angry and desperate New Yorkers only to superciliously inform them that they’re just wrong.
Even Sarah Feinberg, NYC Transit Interim President, is now publicly begging de Blasio for some attention, please.
“It’s not fair to the . . . people who are using this system,” Feinberg said. “It’s not fair to the woman who experienced this today. We have a crisis in this city and it absolutely has to be addressed. It’s got to be addressed, and I’m desperate for this mayor or the next mayor to take it on because we’ve got a long way to go.”
Indeed. Consider this recent and incomplete timeline, Mr. Mayor, of brazen attacks most often occurring during the day, on platforms and lines that are normally clean, safe and well-populated.
Just 12 hours before the Thursday morning’s Union Square attack, a 36-year-old man waiting on the B/D platform at Sixth Avenue and 42nd Street is punched in the head, then shoved on to the tracks, by a beggar angry that the straphanger wouldn’t hand over cash.
Hours before that, a 60-year-old woman is beaten by two assailants, a man and a woman, at the Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center station after she told them to wear masks. Once she fell to the ground, the man kept on beating her. This was 12:20 pm.
Sept 23: A 53-year-old woman is beaten on the D train after attempting to warn a sleeping passenger that he was being robbed. The suspect — the would-be robber — beat this woman till she fell to the floor, then kicked her for good measure.
Sept 20: Three riders are hurt after a 30-year-old man, seen laughing manically to himself, threw metal clamps on to the tracks as an A train approached the 14th St.-8th Ave. station at 8:14 am.
Aug 30: A woman is nearly raped in full view of waiting straphangers on the Lexington Ave.-63rd St, platform. It’s 11 am on a Saturday.
Aug. 6: A 41-year-old woman is slashed in the back with a long knife at the 72nd and Broadway subway. It was noon.
“I’m finding more and more of the homeless [are] coming up to you and asking for money,” a rider identified as Dee told WABC News. “Some of it very belligerently, like you’re supposed to.”
July 30: A 68-year-old woman who took the L train from 6th Ave. and 14th St. every day for the past 20 years is randomly beaten and kicked before being shoved on to the tracks. The woman suffered five broken bones, a broken rib, and was commuting from her job as a housecleaner in Chelsea to her home in Queens, where she supports her sick husband and parents.
July 5: Two elderly men, 71 and 73 years old, are randomly stabbed by a 46-year-old passenger who first yells, ‘Why aren’t you home with your kids?” It’s 7:45 am on a 7 train rolling through Sunnyside.
“Heinous and unprovoked,” says NYPD Chief of Transit Edward Delatorre.
April: Unknown vandals go on a months-long rampage, smashing nearly 500 windows on the 7, 2 and 3 lines, costing the MTA at least $300,000 — as the agency looks at limiting service further among a steep decline in ridership.
And in March, arson inside a subway car injured 16 and killed the train’s conductor. Garrett Goble was 36 years old, married father of two boys, a 10-year-old and an infant, when he died trying to evacuate his passengers.
“We’re not going back to the bad old days when there was so much violence in this city.” That was Mayor de Blasio back in June, speaking from his alternate reality.
We are in full-on “Escape from New York” mode now. For anyone unfamiliar, that’s John Carpenter’s 1981 dystopian thriller, set in a city so overtaken by crime (up 400%!) that the federal government walls it off and turns it into a maximum-security prison, just turns it over to the lunatics and criminals and lets them run this asylum.
The guy who climbed on top of a B26 bus on Tuesday at 5.30 p.m., 25 passengers inside, and blew a flamethrower into the air proves we are practically there.
“NYC is NOT safe,” the Sergeants Benevolent Association raged in a since-removed tweet. “YOU are being lied to.”
Every commuter knows it’s true. I last took the subway about one month ago, and the moment I descended the stairs at the Second Avenue F stop I regretted it. I heard the incoherent rantings of an unhinged man reverberating through the station, and thought about turning around and leaving, and then thought: What if he sees me run and gives chase? So I kept going, trying to move out of his eyeline and out of his way without offending or provoking him, the few people on the platform doing the same, a lifelong New Yorker thinking to myself something I never have before.
Is this the day I get attacked on the subway?